Posted on: October 19, 2010 3:45 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 3:46 pm
Posted by Dave Richard
I'm a lover of football. Fantasy Football is my beat, and I love it, but I also love the game the players play and have a profound respect for all the men who wear an NFL uniform. I appreciate football.
That said, seeing players get concussed left and right last Sunday was jarring. We'll see a few players suffer a concussion in a given week, but it seemed like there was one in every game in Week 6. The number of concussions and helmet-exploding tackles are a function of players being as athletic, fast and aggresive as ever.
The NFL announced Tuesday that players will immediately start getting suspended for illegal hits made on others (the word illegal is the key), a ruling that is not resonating well with many players. According to the NFL rule book that changed before this season, illegal hits are:
"[F]orcibly hitting the defenseless player's head, neck, or face, with the helmet or facemask, regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless player by encircling or grasping him; or lowering the head and violently or unnecessarily making forcible contact with the "hairline" or forehead part of the helmet against any part of the defenseless player's body; or, "launching" (springing forward an upward) into a defenseless player, or otherwise striking him in a way that causes the defensive player's helmet or facemask to forcibly strike the defenseless player's head, neck, or face -- even if the initial contact of the defender's helmet or facemask is lower than the defenseless player's neck."
The rule attempts to eliminate dirty and overly violent play from the game. With the long-term interests of the players' health and brains in mind, and from someone who doesn't play football for a living, it's a commendable move.
But ask anyone whose sole job is to keep players from advancing the football and they're unhappy, confused and above all angry. Many defensive players feel as if it's taking away from their ability to play football the way they were taught.
"Let me say I'm all for player safety," Bears strong safety Chris Harris told CBSSports.com on Tuesday, "but after this weekend I think the NFL has made a knee-jerk reaction. No one is trying to intentionally injure players. Inflict a little pain, yes. That's part of the game. It's freakin' football.
"I've always been taught to put my facemask on the numbers, old school football. They want (defensive players) to change overnight? It's impossible. This is a barbaric sport with a gladiator-like mentality. You know the risk you're taking when you sign this NFL contract, but you still choose to play. That's like people who smoke -- they know the risk of lung cancer but they still do it."
Harris, who was the most vocal about the rule change on Tuesday morning, said that in training camp he and his teammates were shown a video produced by the NFL of what is and what isn't an illegal hit. The video was seen in every camp by every player. Harris said it didn't change his attitude toward tackling, and the reality is that in a league driven by bottom-line results, defenders have a "by any means necessary" attitude when it comes to stopping a player.
"You have a split-second to react and make a decision on tackling," Harris said. "If my helmet makes contact, it's not on purpose, but as a defender my job is to get the ball carrier down. If I don't, I have coaches on my back for missing a tackle, and if you're not making tackles you will be released, plain and simple. I don't have enough time to worry about how I'm getting the ball carrier down. Try half-ass tackling Adrian Peterson and Steven Jackson and see if you get them down. Hell, it's hard enough trying to get them down without thinking about trying to avoid helmet to helmet contact. The time you spend thinking, the ball carrier is by you."
Harris is miffed at the idea that he could be suspended for doing something that he's been trained to do. Moreover, he's been involved in collisions of his own that have left him buzzed. In Week 3 of this season he left the Bears' game vs. the Packers with what turned out to be a stinger, but Harris wrote on his blog, HitmanHarris.com (the name of the blog is not lost on us), that "one side of my body went numb for a moment."
The point is, everyone who plays football is at risk for concussions and serious head injuries. "It's the nature of the game," Harris said.
The alternatives to the NFL's rule change are equally troubling. They could stand pat and enforce a 15-yard penalty, which they've been doing so far this year. They've also been fining players as a deterrent. either of those have curbed the number of helmet-to-helmet hits. Suspensions takes the issue to the next level, and that will make some players -- some -- think twice before delivering a blow. In that case, the ruling is already working.
When asked if he had a solution of his own to this problem, Harris was blunt: "Nope, other than just do away with the game if it's all about player safety."
We know that's not going to happen. Whether or not this step by the NFL works, and what changes the NFL makes going forward, could change the course of the game -- for better or for worse.
Dave Richard doles out daily fantasy football advice for CBSSports.com -- follow him on Twitter if you're not already.
Posted on: August 18, 2010 12:10 am
Posted by Andy Benoit
Chances are within the last four years, you, or someone you know, has had an opportunity to start at safety for the Chicago Bears. Major Wright, a third-round rookie from Florida, was hoping to join this far-reaching club by Week 1. The Bears were hoping for it, too.
When drafted, the versatile Wright was expected to snag the starting free safety job right away. His development was a tad slow at first, but he’s been impressive as of late. However, after missing a week of camp with a bad hamstring, Wright has hit another obstacle. The Chicago Tribune reported over the weekend that Wright will have surgery on his broken index finger this week. He’s not expected to miss any regular season action, but he’ll lose more valuable practice and preseason reps.
The Bears have been using veterans Chris Harris and Danieal Manning at safety thus far. Both have been starters in the past, but both have also lost their jobs in the past (Harris was traded to Carolina a few years ago, Manning has been benched and relocated to cornerback multiple times).
Expect Wright to get a trial run as a starter at some point this season. That point probably won’t be in September as originally hoped.
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Posted on: August 16, 2010 5:24 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2010 8:41 pm
Posted by Josh Katzowitz
A couple of Bears injury notes, though fortunately for Chicago’s fans, neither appears to be serious.
Backup QB Caleb Hanie, who was hurt Saturday when Chargers LB Antwan Applewhite drove his shoulder into the ground during a sack, said his shoulder won’t require surgery.
According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune , Hanie – who’s still waiting for the results of a precautionary MRI but said he suffered an injury to the AC joint – doesn’t think he’s in danger of losing his No. 2 spot, behind Jay Cutler and ahead of rookie Dan LeFevour.
"I've never missed any games, so if I have to miss a game this is new territory," Hanie told reporters. "I'm not worried about losing my (No. 2) job. That's not even a worry for me. What I have is not a season-ending injury, not half-season, not even beginning of the season. I am definitely not worried about losing my position.”
Also, the Bears said today rookie safety Major Wright will have surgery on his broken left index finger . That means Wright might not open the season as a starting safety and it could mean the experienced Chris Harris could fill that role. But it’s not a major injury for the third-round pick, and for now, that’s what counts.
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Posted on: June 16, 2010 6:29 pm
It’s rare to see top-quality players still in their prime hitting the free agent market in June. But thanks to uncommon stipulations put forth by the uncapped year, this scenario has played out with free safety O.J. Atogwe. One of the better ballhawks in football (statistically speaking) is available, and seemingly every GM who doesn’t already have Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins, Eric Berry, Antoine Bethea, Darren Sharper or Nick Collins on their roster has had to field questions about the six-year pro.
This includes Bears GM Jerry Angelo. Since Mike Brown left, the Bears have fruitlessly shuffled safeties in hopes of finding the right fit. They seem destined to do so again this year, though don’t expect Atogwe to be part of the shuffle. Here’s what Angelo told the team’s website today:
“[Atogwe] is a good football player. We’ve evaluated him and we like him. But at this point, we’re set. We drafted Major Wright and traded for Chris Harris. We also have Danieal Manning, Craig Steltz and Josh Bullocks, all of whom have started in this league. We have five pretty good safeties, four of whom have a goodly amount of experience within our scheme. We feel good about that position.”
Though the Bears probably won’t sign Atogwe, let’s shake out the nonsense in Angelo’s statements.
First off, this is the same Jerry Angelo who, days before cutting Nathan Vasher, said he would not cut Nathan Vasher. (He even gave a logical explanation, which was that the cornerback had already been paid most of his money.) Can you blame Angelo for misleading the media here? No, it’s part of his job. But because of this, we have to take a heavy grain of salt with everything he says. In this Atogwe case, Angelo is talking to ChicagoBears.com. Think there’s a lot of hard-hitting journalists and muckrakers working for that site? The GM can say whatever he wants and not be pressed for accountability.
As for the statement itself, Angelo is right about Major Wright and Chris Harris being viable pieces. Wright, like any rookie at this point, is an enigma, but the Bears drafted him to start at free safety. Harris is a punishing hitter who knows the scheme.
But Angelo is blowing smoke when he talks about Manning, Steltz and Bullocks. These men are NOT quality safeties. If they were, Wright and Harris wouldn’t have been brought in. These three safeties all have starting experience, but only because none of them could keep a starting job. They’ve spent years rotating in and out of the lineup with each other.
Again, it’s the GM’s job to paint a rosy picture. But with no games being played to expose the falsity of these rosy pictures right now, we’re compelled to write snarky blogs when our B.S. detector goes off.